1.4 Large-Scale Influences on the Genesis of Tropical Cyclone Karl (2010)

Tuesday, 8 January 2013: 9:15 AM
Room 4ABC (Austin Convention Center)
Kyle S. Griffin, University of Wisconsin - Madison, Madison, WI; and L. F. Bosart

The events leading up to the genesis of Tropical Cyclone (TC) Karl (2010) provides a unique opportunity to examine the continuing problem of understanding tropical cyclogenesis. The PRE-Depression Investigation of Cloud-systems in the Tropics (PREDICT) field campaign allowed for detailed investigation of the tropical disturbance that served as the precursor to TC Karl as it progressed westward through the Caribbean Sea. The purpose of this presentation is to examine the evolution of the pre-Karl disturbance using both common synoptic-scale analyses as well as statistically-based equatorial wave analyses, focusing on where these analyses complement and enhance each other.

One of the major factors in the initial spin-up of the pre-Karl tropical disturbance is a surge of southerly and westerly winds from northern South America on 8-10 September 2010. As the surge entered the Caribbean on 9 September, it aided in the formation of a nearly closed earth-relative cyclonic circulation near the southern Leeward Islands. This circulation weakened late on 10 September and remained weak through 13 September before increased organization led to TC genesis on 14 September. This southerly wind surge can be traced to a well-defined surge of anomalously cold air and enhanced southerly winds originating in the lee of the Argentinian Andes over a week prior. While the temperature anomalies wash out prior to reaching the equator, anomalous low-level winds progress into Colombia and Venezuela, where topography aids in turning the southerly winds eastward.

An investigation of the pre-Karl environment utilizing wavenumber-frequency filtering techniques also suggests that the initial spin-up of pre-Karl can be associated with the active phase of a convectively coupled Kelvin wave (CCKW). The observed formation of the nearly closed cyclonic circulation on 10 September is well timed with the passage of anomalous westerly winds along and behind the convectively active phase of a CCKW. These westerly wind anomalies have been associated with an increase in the frequency of TC genesis, commonly attributed to the generation of low-level cyclonic vorticity and a reduction in climatological shear over the western Atlantic by other researchers. Further, the total wind field associated with a CCKW promotes deep convection via the enhancement of low-level convergence and upper-level outflow ahead of the wave. The passage of the CCKW during 8-10 September occurs in concert with the aforementioned cold surge-related enhanced low-level southerly winds that turn eastward as they cross the equator, further strengthening the westerly wind anomalies associated with the CCKW. This favorable juxtaposition of low-level southerly and westerly flows results in the amplification of convective activity associated with the CCKW around the time the CCKW interacts with the pre-Karl disturbance and likely serves to enhance the resulting low-level cyclonic circulation, eventually leading to the genesis of TC Karl.

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